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G.R. No. 181949. April 23, 2014.*


HEIRS OF FRANCISCO BIHAG, namely: ALEJANDRA
BIHAG, NICOMEDES B. BIHAG, VERONICA B.
ACOSTA, SUSANA B. MIOZA, PAULINO B. BIHAG,
DANILO B. BIHAG, TIMOTEO B. BIHAG JR.,
EDILBERTO B. BIHAG, JOSEPHINE B. MIOZA, and
MA. FE B. ARDITA,** petitioners, vs. HEIRS OF NICASIO
BATHAN, namely: PRIMITIVA B. BATHAN and
DUMININA B. GAMALIER,*** respondents.

Remedial Law Civil Procedure Appeals The Supreme Court,


in order to standardize the appeal periods provided in the Rules
and to afford litigants fair opportunity to appeal their cases,
declared that an aggrieved party has a fresh period of 15 days
counted from receipt of the order dismissing a motion for a new
trial or motion for reconsideration, within which to file the notice
of appeal in the Regional Trial Court (RTC).In Neypes, the
Supreme Court, in order to standardize the appeal periods
provided in the Rules and to afford litigants fair opportunity to
appeal their cases, declared that an aggrieved party has a fresh
period of 15 days counted from receipt of the order dismissing a
motion for a new trial or motion for reconsideration, within which
to file the notice of appeal in the RTC. In light of the foregoing
jurisprudence, we agree with petitioners that their Notice of
Appeal was timely filed as they had a fresh 15day period from
the time they received the Order denying their Motion for
Reconsideration within which to file their Notice of Appeal.
Same Same Judgments Final Judgments It is a settled rule
that a decision or order becomes final and executory if the
aggrieved party fails to appeal or move for a reconsideration
within 15 days from his receipt of the courts decision or order
disposing of the action or proceeding.It is a settled rule that a
decision or order becomes final and executory if the aggrieved
party fails to appeal or move for

_______________

*SECOND DIVISION.

** Also referred to as Ma. Fe Bihag in some parts of the records.

*** Also referred to as Dominina B. Gamalier in some parts of the records.

500

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a reconsideration within 15 days from his receipt of the courts


decision or order disposing of the action or proceeding. Once it
becomes final and executory, the decision or order may no longer
be amended or modified, not even by an appellate court.
Same Same Notices The best evidence to prove that notice
was sent would be a certification from the postmaster, who should
certify not only that the notice was issued or sent but also as to
how, when and to whom the delivery and receipt was made.In
this case, petitioners, through their counsel, received a copy of the
assailed January 5, 2007 Order, under Registry Receipt No. E
0280, on January 22, 2007, as evidenced by the Certification of
the assistant postmaster. As such, petitioners should have filed
their motion for reconsideration within 15 days, or on or before
February 6, 2007, but they did not. Instead, they filed a Petition
for Certiorari before the Court of Appeals on October 10, 2007. At
this time, the RTCs January 5, 2007 Order denying the Notice to
Appeal had long become final and executory. Petitioners mere
denial of the receipt of the assailed Order cannot prevail over the
Certification issued by the assistant postmaster as we have
consistently declared that [t]he best evidence to prove that notice
was sent would be a certification from the postmaster, who should
certify not only that the notice was issued or sent but also as to
how, when and to whom the delivery and receipt was made.

PETITION for review on certiorari of the resolutions of the


Court of Appeals.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
Gines N. Abellana for petitioners.
Seno & Pagaran Law Offices for respondents.

DEL CASTILLO, J.:


The doctrine of finality of judgment dictates that, at the
risk of occasional errors, judgments or orders must become
final at some point in time.1

_______________
1GallardoCarro v. Gallardo, 403 Phil. 498, 511 350 SCRA 568, 578
(2001).

501

This Petition for Review on Certiorari2 under Rule 45 of the


Rules of Court assails the October 26, 20073 and January
14, 20084 Resolutions of the Court of Appeals (CA) in C.A.
G.R. S.P. No. 03019.
Factual Antecedents
On April 23, 1992, petitioners heirs of Francisco Bihag
(Francisco), namely: Teofilo T. Bihag, Jorge T. Bihag,
Leona B. Velasquez, Vivencia B. Suson and Timoteo T.
Bihag,5 represented by his heirs Nicomedes Bihag,
Alejandra Bihag, Veronica B. Acosta, Susana Mioza,

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Paulino Bihag, Danilo Bihag, Edilberto Bihag, Timoteo


Bihag Jr., Josephine B. Mioza, and Ma. Fe Bihag, filed
with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Mandaue City a
Complaint6 for Quieting of Title, Damages, and Writ of
Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order (TRO),
docketed as Civil Case No. MAN1311, against respondents
spouses Nicasio7 and Primitiva (Primitiva) Bathan and
their daughter, Duminina Bathan Gamalier. Petitioners
alleged that sometime in the 1960s, respondent Primitiva
approached her brother, Francisco, to borrow money.8 But
since he did not have money at that time, she instead
asked him to mortgage his unregistered land in Casili,
Mandaue City, to the Rural Bank of Mandaue City so that
she could get a loan.9 She promised that she would pay the
obligation to the bank and that she would return to him

_______________
2Rollo, pp. 312.
3CA Rollo, pp. 7576 penned by Associate Justice Pampio A. Abarintos
and concurred in by Associate Justices Francisco P. Acosta and Amy C.
LazaroJavier.
4Id., at pp. 9799.
5Deceased.
6Records, Volume I, pp. 16.
7Due to his untimely demise, defendant Nicasio was substituted by his
heirs id., at pp. 9899.
8Id., at p. 2.
9Id.

502

the documents, which were submitted to the bank in


support of the loan application.10 Francisco agreed on the
condition that respondent Primitiva would pay the real
property tax of the subject land while it was mortgaged.11
When Francisco died on December 13, 1976, petitioners
found out that the mortgage had long been cancelled.12
They confronted respondents to return the documents but
to no avail.13 Petitioners later discovered that respondents
took possession of the land and were hauling materials and
limestones from it to the prejudice of petitioners.14 Thus,
petitioners prayed that a TRO be issued against the latter
to enjoin them from entering the land and from hauling
materials therefrom.15
On the same day, the RTC issued a TRO16 against
respondents for a period of 20 days, pending the resolution
of petitioners application for a Writ of Preliminary
Injunction.
Respondents, in their Answer,17 denied the material
allegations of the Complaint and interposed the defenses of
lack of cause of action and laches. They claimed that
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respondent spouses already owned the land when it was


mortgaged to the Rural Bank of Mandaue City in the
1960s.18 They alleged that in 1956, Francisco borrowed
money from Primitiva using the tax declarations of the
land as collateral19 that he failed to pay the loan20 and
thus, in 1959, he verbally sold the land to respondent
spouses.21 Respondents insisted that petitioners

_______________
10Id., at pp. 23.
11Id., at p. 2.
12Id., at p. 3.
13Id.
14Id.
15Id., at p. 5.
16Id., at p. 10 penned by Judge Mercedes GozoDadole.
17Id., at pp. 1222.
18Id., at p. 15.
19Id., at p. 13.
20Id.
21Id., at pp. 1213.

503

knew about the sale,22 as evidenced by the ExtraJudicial


Declaration of Heirs with Deed of Sale,23 which was signed
by some of the petitioners in 1984.
In response, petitioners countered that the signatures of
those who signed the ExtraJudicial Declaration of Heirs
with Deed of Sale were obtained through fraud as they
barely know how to read and were in their twilight years
when they signed the document.24
On June 2, 1992, the RTC issued an Order25 granting
petitioners application for the issuance of a Writ of
Preliminary Injunction.
Thereafter, trial ensued.
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
On March 20, 2006, the RTC issued a Decision26 in favor
of respondents. It gave credence to their version that
Francisco sold the land to respondent Primitiva in 1959.27
In addition, the RTC ruled that petitioners are estopped
from claiming ownership over the said land by reason of
laches, pointing out that respondents have been in
possession of the land for more than 30 years and that
Francisco, during his lifetime, never disputed their public
and peaceful possession of the land.28 Thus, the RTC
decreed:

Foregoing considered, the Court decides in favor of the


[respondents].

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_______________
22Id.
23Id., at p. 23 (unnotarized).
24Id., at p. 35.
25Id., at pp. 3839 penned by Judge Mercedes GozoDadole.
26Id., Volume III, pp. 553574 penned by Presiding Judge Augustine A. Vestil.
27Id., at p. 570.
28Id., at pp. 572573.

504

1. The dismissal of the case


2. Plaintiffs to surrender possession and ownership of the
property under consideration to Nicasio Bathan and
Primitiva BihagBathan
3. Plaintiffs to pay moral damages of Fifty Thousand
Pesos (P50,000.00) Attorneys fees of Fifty Thousand Pesos
(P50,000.00) as well as litigation expenses in the amount of
Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00).
SO ORDERED.29

Petitioners moved for a reconsideration but the RTC


denied the same in its August 11, 2006 Order.30
Unfazed, petitioners filed a Notice of Appeal on October
2, 2006.31
On January 5, 2007, the RTC issued an Order32 denying
the Notice of Appeal. The RTC declared that:

A reading of the Notice of Appeal will show that [petitioners]


received a copy of the Decision on April 20, 2006 but filed the
Motion for Reconsideration on April 28, 2006 after the lapse of
eight (8) days. Furthermore, [petitioners] received a copy of the
Order denying their motion on September 22, 2006 but filed the
Notice of Appeal on October 2, 2006 after the lapse of ten (10)
days. Thus, the Notice of Appeal was filed after the lapse of [the]
fifteen (15) days reglementary period or to be exact after the lapse
of eighteen (18) days.
xxxx
[Based] on the case cited above, [petitioners] only [have] (7)
seven days from the date of receipt of the Order denying the
Motion for Reconsideration to file the Notice of Appeal.

_______________
29Id., at pp. 573574.
30Id., at p. 613.
31Id., at p. 626.
32Id., at pp. 630631.

505

Considering that the Notice of Appeal was filed on the 15th day
from receipt of the Order denying Motion for Reconsideration

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which is beyond the reglementary period to file the Notice of


Appeal, the same is DENIED due course.
Notify counsels.
SO ORDERED.33

Thereafter, respondents filed a Motion for the Issuance


of a Writ of Execution,34 which petitioners did not oppose.
On April 24, 2007, the RTC issued an Order35 granting
the Motion and on May 2, 2007, it issued a Writ of
Execution.36
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
On October 10, 2007, petitioners filed with the CA a
Petition for Certiorari with prayer for the issuance of a
TRO and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction37 under Rule 65
of the Rules of Court.
On October 26, 2007, the CA issued a Resolution38
dismissing the Petition for being insufficient in form and
substance.

_______________
33Id.
34Id., at pp. 632634.
35Id., at p. 647.
36Id., at pp. 652653.
37CA Rollo, pp. 29.
38Id., at pp. 7576. The Resolution reads:
The present Petition for Certiorari with prayer for the issuance
of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary
Injunction is ordered DISMISSED for being insufficient in form
and in substance, to wit:
1. It does not show the material dates required under Sec.
3 Rule 46 of the Rules of Court such as: (a) when notice of the
judgment or final order or resolution subject thereof was received
(b) when a motion for new trial or reconsideration, if any, was
filed and (c) when notice of the denial thereof was received

506

It found that the Petition failed to indicate the material


dates as required under Section 3,39 Rule 46 of the Rules of
Court

_______________
2. No prior Motion for Reconsideration was taken. The
precipitate filing of petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court without first moving for reconsideration of the
assailed order of the lower court warrants the outright dismissal
of the case. Certiorari will not lie unless the aggrieved party has
no other claim, speedy and adequate remedy in the course of law,
such as the filing of a Motion for Reconsideration
3. One of the petitioners, Jorge T. Bihag, has not signed
the verification and certification of nonforum shopping

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4. The Verification appended to the petition appears to be a


photocopy only and the affiants did not indicate the date of issue
of their Community Tax Certificate Number and
5. Lastly, the petitioners did not submit the certified true
copy of the Order dated 24 April 2007 of the public respondent
granting the issuance of a writ of execution.
SO ORDERED.
39 Section 3. Contents and filing of petition effect of
noncompliance with requirements.The petition shall contain the
full names and actual addresses of all the petitioners and
respondents, a concise statement of the matters involved, the
factual background of the case, and the grounds relied upon for
the relief prayed for.
In actions filed under Rule 65, the petition shall further
indicate the material dates showing when notice of the judgment
or final order or resolution subject thereof was received, when a
motion for new trial or reconsideration, if any, was filed and when
notice of the denial thereof was received.
It shall be filed in seven (7) clearly legible copies together with
proof of service thereof on the respondent with the original copy
intended for the court indicated as such by the petitioner, and
shall be accompanied by a clearly legible duplicate original or
certified true copy of the judgment, order, resolution, or ruling
subject thereof, such material portions of the record as are
referred to therein, and other documents relevant or pertinent
thereto. The certification shall be accomplished by the proper
clerk of court or by his duly authorized

507

that no prior motion for reconsideration was taken that


one of the petitioners, Jorge T. Bihag, failed to sign the
verification and certification of nonforum shopping that
the verification appended to the Petition was a photocopy
that affiants failed to indicate the date of issue of their
Community Tax Certificate and that petitioners failed to
submit the certified true copy of the RTCs April 24, 2007
Order, granting the issuance of a Writ of Execution.
Aggrieved, petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration40
attaching a copy of the RTCs August 24, 2007 Order and
explaining that no motion for reconsideration was filed
since they never received a copy of the RTCs January 5,
2007 Order, denying their Notice of Appeal.
Respondents opposed the Motion, contending that
petitioners received a copy of the RTCs January 5, 2007
Order as evidenced by the Certification issued by the
assistant postmaster, attesting that petitioners, through
their counsels

_______________

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representative, or by the proper officer of the court, tribunal, agency or


office involved or by his duly authorized representative. The other
requisite number of copies of the petition shall be accompanied by clearly
legible plain copies of all documents attached to the original.
The petitioner shall also submit together with the petition a sworn
certification that he has not theretofore commenced any other action
involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals or
different divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency if there is such
other action or proceeding, he must state the status of the same and if he
should thereafter learn that a similar action or proceeding has been filed
or is pending before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or different
divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency, he undertakes to
promptly inform the aforesaid courts and other tribunal or agency thereof
within five (5) days therefrom.
The petitioner shall pay the corresponding docket and other lawful fees
to the clerk of court and deposit the amount of P500.00 for costs at the
time of the filing of the petition.
The failure of the petitioner to comply any of the requirements shall be
sufficient ground for the dismissal of the petition.
40CA Rollo, pp. 7781.

508

receiving clerk, received a copy of the Order on January 22,


2007.41
On January 14, 2008, the CA issued a Resolution42 denying
the Motion for Reconsideration filed by petitioners for lack
of merit.
Issue
Hence, the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari
with Application for Preliminary Injunction with the sole
issue of whether x x x the disapproval of the Notice of
Appeal undertaken by petitioners from the judgment of the
[RTC] was in accordance with law.43
Acting on petitioners application for Preliminary
Injunction, this Court, in its April 2, 2008 Resolution,44
issued a TRO enjoining respondents from implementing
the May 2, 2007 Writ of Execution issued by the RTC in
Civil Case No. MAN1311.
Petitioners Arguments
Petitioners sole contention is that the RTCs denial of
their Notice of Appeal contravenes the ruling in Neypes v.
Court of Appeals,45 which grants an aggrieved party a fresh
period of 15 days from receipt of the denial of a motion for
new trial or motion for reconsideration within which to file
the notice of appeal.46 Petitioners claim that their Notice of
Appeal was timely filed on October 2, 2006 or within 10
days after they

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41Id., at pp. 8488.

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42Id., at pp. 9799.


43Rollo, p. 184.
44Id., at pp. 109113.
45506 Phil. 613, 626 469 SCRA 633, 641 (2005).
46Rollo, pp. 184185.

509

received the Order denying their Motion for


47
Reconsideration on September 22, 2006.
Respondents Arguments
Instead of responding to petitioners contention,
respondents put in issue petitioners failure to move for a
reconsideration of the denial of their Notice of Appeal.48
Respondents assert that the absence of a motion for
reconsideration justifies the CAs denial of the Petition for
Certiorari filed by petitioners.49
Anent petitioners alleged nonreceipt of the January 5,
2007 Order, respondents insist that this is belied by the
Certification issued by the assistant postmaster certifying
that on January 22, 2007, the receiving clerk of the office of
petitioners counsel received a copy of the January 5, 2007
Order.50 Respondents further contend that even if
petitioners did not receive a copy of the said Order, they
should have at least opposed the Motion for Issuance of a
Writ of Execution filed by respondents or moved for a
reconsideration of the RTCs April 24, 2007 Order granting
respondents Motion for the Issuance of a Writ of
Execution.51 Failing to do so, petitioners lost the right to
question the RTCs Orders.52 Thus, the CA correctly
dismissed the Petition for Certiorari filed by petitioners
under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
Our Ruling
The Petition must fail.

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47Id., at p. 185.
48Id., at pp. 170171.
49Id., at p. 172.
50Id., at p. 170.
51Id., at pp. 170171.
52Id., at p. 171.

510

An aggrieved party is allowed


fresh period of 15 days counted
from receipt of the order denying a
motion for a new trial or motion
for reconsideration within which

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to file the notice of appeal in the


RTC.
In Neypes, the Supreme Court, in order to standardize
the appeal periods provided in the Rules and to afford
litigants fair opportunity to appeal their cases, declared
that an aggrieved party has a fresh period of 15 days
counted from receipt of the order dismissing a motion for a
new trial or motion for reconsideration, within which to file
the notice of appeal in the RTC.53
In light of the foregoing jurisprudence, we agree with
petitioners that their Notice of Appeal was timely filed as
they had a fresh 15day period from the time they received
the Order denying their Motion for Reconsideration within
which to file their Notice of Appeal.
The January 5, 2007 Order has
attained finality.
But while we agree with petitioners that their Notice of
Appeal was erroneously denied by the RTC, we are
nevertheless constrained to deny the instant Petition as the
January 5, 2007 Order, denying petitioners Notice of
Appeal, has attained finality. It is a settled rule that a
decision or order becomes final and executory if the
aggrieved party fails to appeal or move for a
reconsideration within 15 days from his receipt of the
courts decision or order disposing of the action or
proceeding.54 Once it becomes final and executory, the deci

_______________
53Reyes v. Court of Appeals, supra note 45.
54Heirs of the late Flor Tungpalan v. Court of Appeals, 499 Phil. 384,
389 460 SCRA 392, 397 (2005).

511

sion or order may no longer be amended or modified, not


even by an appellate court.55
In this case, petitioners, through their counsel, received
a copy of the assailed January 5, 2007 Order, under
Registry Receipt No. E0280, on January 22, 2007, as
evidenced by the Certification of the assistant postmaster.
As such, petitioners should have filed their motion for
reconsideration within 15 days, or on or before February 6,
2007, but they did not. Instead, they filed a Petition for
Certiorari before the Court of Appeals on October 10, 2007.
At this time, the RTCs January 5, 2007 Order denying the
Notice to Appeal had long become final and executory.
Petitioners mere denial of the receipt of the assailed Order
cannot prevail over the Certification issued by the assistant
postmaster as we have consistently declared that [t]he
best evidence to prove that notice was sent would be a
certification from the postmaster, who should certify not

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only that the notice was issued or sent but also as to how,
when and to whom the delivery and receipt was made.56
Considering that the January 5, 2007 Order has
attained finality, it may no longer be modified, altered, or
disturbed, even if the modification seeks to correct an
erroneous conclusion by the court that rendered it.57
In view of the foregoing, we find no error on the part of
the CA in denying the Petition for Certiorari.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED. The
assailed October 26, 2007 and January 14, 2008
Resolutions of the Court of Appeals in C.A.G.R. S.P. No.
03019 are hereby AFFIRMED.
The Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Court
on April 2, 2008 is hereby LIFTED.

_______________
55Id.
56 Bernarte v. Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), G.R. No.
192084, September 14, 2011, 657 SCRA 745, 753.
57GallardoCorro v. Gallardo, supra note 1.

512

SO ORDERED.

Carpio (Chairperson), Brion, Perez and Perlas


Bernabe, JJ., concur.

Petition denied, resolutions affirmed.

Notes.The doctrine of finality of judgment is grounded


on fundamental considerations of public policy and sound
practice that at the risk of occasional errors, the judgment
of adjudicating bodies must become final and executory on
some definite date fixed by law. (Vios vs. Pantangco, Jr.,
578 SCRA 129 [2009])
The denial of a motion to dismiss, as an interlocutory
order, cannot be the subject of an appeal until a final
judgment or order is rendered in the main case. An
aggrieved party, however, may assail an interlocutory
order through a petition for certiorari. (Lim vs. Court of
Appeals, Mindanao Station, 689 SCRA 705 [2013])
o0o

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